Walter Cronkite Passes Away


Walter Cronkite, who pioneered and then mastered the role of television news anchorman with such plain-spoken grace that he was called the most trusted man in America, died Friday, his family said. He was 92.

Update (TL): Here's his famous clip announcing the assassination of JFK:

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    i was just liistening (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Democratic Cat on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:14:56 PM EST
    To his live description of the lunar landing. "Neil Armstrong, a 38-year old American...". There's never been anyone as good. Or maybe it's just that he told me what I needed to know about the world in my youth.

    A pro. Incorruptible and ambitious (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by oldpro on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:25:16 PM EST
    for all the right reasons.

    The passing of an era...

    Yes, now the news tells me how (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:27:05 PM EST
    I'm so supposed to feel about the news and what to think about the news they choose to give me.

    That's because it's not 'the news'... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by oldpro on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:19:40 PM EST
    it's 'da nooz.'


    Up is down, for while 'da nooz' puts most people to sleep with its mindless, repetitive sameness, in truth we need to stay wide awake to weed out the nonsense and focus on the rare item of real importance.  So, up is down because the news is no longer their job.  It's ours.


    You don't think it is an improvement that (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:40:38 PM EST
    you may choose to e mail or twitter CNN and see you very own words at the bottom of the screen?

    I think it is fun that that is possible (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:33:36 AM EST
    I think specific programs dedicated to that interaction would be wonderful - and then perhaps we could have a time slot or two simply dedicated to reporting the news.

    Let's not (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by CoralGables on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:58:09 PM EST
    degrade Ted Baxter that way. Having had to listen to Sanchez in Miami the night he asked an on the scene reporter what floating decomposing body parts smelled like, any comparison between Rick and Ted is unseemly.

    I remember on a ep of ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 11:42:52 PM EST
    The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ted is telling Mary about one of his dreams.  Mary asks how the dream ended.

    And Ted says, "It ended like all my dreams ... with Walter Cronkite and Winston Churchill applauding."


    I don't know that younger people can (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Anne on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:03:38 PM EST
    really appreciate Walter Cronkite and others of his generation, but those of us who are old enough - I'm 56 - certainly have been mourning for some time the transition to entertainment and stenographic journalism that seems to be the order of the day.  And shows no sign of improving anytime soon.  See Glenn's discussion with Chuck Todd for an elemental lesson in what is wrong with "journalism" today.

    Godspeed, Walter Cronkite...we missed you long before you shuffled off this mortal coil.

    In Walter's day (none / 0) (#20)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 01:05:33 AM EST
    we didn't have "political analysts" like Todd.  OTOH, truth be told, we got a lot less news of any kind.  Walter was originally on for only 15 minutes a day.  So it's not as if we got great in-depth reporting on a daily basis even then.  If Walter hadn't turned against the Vietnam war, most Americans wouldn't ever have realized there was anything wrong with what we were being told about it.

    15 minutes/day is pretty (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 11:41:02 AM EST
    appalling.  And CBS only went to a half hour (22 minutes actually) a couple of months before Dallas, iirc.   Not exactly The Golden Age of Television in respect to news coverage.  

    Re Walter, a good guy with an appealing personality, it's interesting (but not at all surprising) that before the Tet Offensive of 1968, he had been a strong backer of LBJ's War, like most in the MSM.

    But Tet came along, and taking advantage of a prior friendship with Gen Creighton Abrams (#2 military commander in VN), he got the off-the-record word that our military effort there had become "stalemated."  Thus he went on the air when he returned to the US and could confidently pronounce, without revealing his key source, that we weren't winning and needed to think about withdrawing.

    Probably the only reason he wasn't either demoted or fired by LBJ-friendly CBS (Frank Stanton, CBS Pres, was very good friends with Lyndon) -- as Murrow essentially was following his anti-McCarthy broadcast of 1954 -- was because Johnson himself greatly admired and respected Cronkite.

    Prior to Cronkite's laudable commentary in 1968, the only major contrary view of VN put on the airwaves in any substantial way (outside of an occasional off-key Morley Safer report from Nam on the Evening News) was the live but incomplete network coverage of the 1966 Fulbright Senate Foreign Rel Comm'ee hearings on the War, where an increasingly antiwar Fulbright along with Sens Wayne Morse and Al Gore, Sr grilled administration witnesses, while they also called a few antiwar bigwig skeptics like Mr Containment George Kennan.  


    Back in the 60's, (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:10:43 PM EST
    my work took me to a lot of  lonely, desolate towns and villages. Unpacking, and settling in for the night at some strip, $15 motel, it was such a great mood pick-er-up to flip on the TV and catch "Walt" at 6:30, and then "Johnnie" at 11:30.

    Seeing these two great, familiar guys through the frame of my propped up feet, and "Snap!"..... wasn't lonely any more.

    Either that, or "Goodnight, Chet..." (none / 0) (#14)
    by oldpro on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:33:04 PM EST
    "Goodnight, David."

    Huntley/Brinkley had a very strong presence on NBC while Walter WAS CBS...along with a very strong crew of young newsmen, always storming the gates.  Insiders and friends say he was very upset at being replaced by Dan Rather and didn't get over it for a long time...if ever.  He championed Katie, though, to (finally) replace Dan.

    Some wounds cut deep.


    Hearing Brinkley interviewed tonight (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Cream City on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 11:31:21 PM EST
    I was reminded of the great coverage of political conventions in the past, of being a kid staying up late to watch and learn and see politics in action.

    And so, it was a reminder of another great loss, with the horror of the Dem convention this year -- cutting off the great moment of the roll call.

    Brinkley alluded to the media not being solely to blame.  The news is manufactured now, and most often not by the media but by their manipulators.


    We'll never see (none / 0) (#15)
    by cal1942 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:13:11 PM EST
    their like again.

    We are all creatures of our time.

    They came of age in a different America when there was still a supply of integrity and leadership.


    His was the face that truly represented (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:44:04 PM EST
    the emotional pain of the country the day JFK died.

    His generation of tv journalists didn't need tricks to get people to tune in. Watching the evening news was routine, and considered family viewing...though, certainly not entertainment.



    Well put (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by nycstray on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 11:27:11 PM EST
    I remember him more for the space events because of my parents (they would wake us up to watch launches, etc) But he was basically the background voice in my growing up. I find myself watching local news these days because they are the least (for me) offensive towards reporting news. I hope life produces another one of him and s/he goes mainstream. That "old style" reporting is sorely missed.

    Wow (none / 0) (#21)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 01:13:17 AM EST
    That little story really nails something about the, jeez, I don't know, cultural unity or something that we had in those days.  I never had the experience you had, but I know exactly what you mean.  For better and worse, the world was a heck of a lot more orderly and familiar place then, I think.

    Walter was wrong about the war (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 07:53:42 AM EST
    A few will note his now infamous remarks that we had lost in Vietnam when we had not. His ignorance and hubris then was so striking and so bold that no one recognized it. It is, of course, a day labor's job today, as common as an Ivy League professor condemning America and a new Democratic administration preparing to lose the War On Terror.

    Bui Tin interview.

    The best I can do for Cronkite is to quote Shakespeare.

    The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones

    Way to stay classy, jim (n/t) (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by rdandrea on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:16:25 AM EST
    He doesn't care that he is contrary, or (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:54:31 AM EST
    rude. He cares that he gets attention.

    So we won in Vietnam? (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:35:17 AM EST
    No, we never lost a battle (2.00 / 0) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:15:54 AM EST
    but we surrendered and lost the war.

    We surrendered? (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:43:05 AM EST
    Clinging to helicopters as they lifted off from the rooftops was a surrender? You just crack me up

    There is an open thread (2.00 / 0) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:50:13 AM EST
    if you want to talk about Vietnam.

    And yes, we surrendered.


    Chicken...... (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:04:51 AM EST
    No, just trying to follow the rules (2.00 / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:15:14 AM EST
    You should try it sometimes.

    Make your brag good and I will follow. There is an open thread above.


    You lead (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:26:24 AM EST
    I'll follow.

    You made the claim. (2.00 / 0) (#46)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 12:00:20 PM EST
    You prove it.

    I give you Jim (5.00 / 0) (#65)
    by jondee on Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 02:54:24 PM EST
    Exhibit A of a certain personality type permanantly traumatized by any serious blow to their tribal narcissism, such as occurred in Vietnam in the sixties.

    And its always and forever someone else's fault: If only everyone had "supported the troops"; If only the liberal media hadnt stabbed us in the back..yadda, yadda.

    Now all these wingnuts live and breath for vindication of their hyper-nationalism and psuedo-patriotism the way Hitler did after Versailles.  



    Cronkite's infamous remarks (2.00 / 0) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:19:12 AM EST
    driven by his lack of knowledge about Tet are as much a part of his legacy as "the most trusted..." is. I stand by what Shakespeare wrote.

    As You Like It, Jim (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:50:42 AM EST
    The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

    As You Like it, Act 5, Scene 1

    Now how long did the war continue after Tet?


    The war would have been over (2.00 / 0) (#40)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:16:43 AM EST
    within in a year without the media's help.

    I offer you the same as I did Tracy.


    you've made some absurd comments (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 01:16:19 PM EST
    but this ranks right up there.

    But once a dolchstosslegender, always  a dolchstosslegender I suppose.


    BTW, it is a mystery why (5.00 / 0) (#53)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 02:46:53 PM EST
    ppj shows up when he does but now I know when you do!

    Been extremely busy (5.00 / 0) (#58)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 12:39:08 PM EST
    foreclosure crises is keeping me busy. Leo has been ill and I don't seem to have the time I did before.

    I miss your always spot on comments. (5.00 / 0) (#59)
    by oculus on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 12:41:15 PM EST
    Hope things look up soon.

    A great read (and while listening to (none / 0) (#51)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 02:00:13 PM EST
    George London singing Wotan).  Host of KUSC's opera program is acknowledging the LA mayor's discomfort with the upcoming Ring cycle presented by LA Opera.  Mayor says focus should be wider than Wagner, given he was antisemitic and a hero of Hitler's.  

    Sure (5.00 / 0) (#66)
    by jondee on Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 03:09:18 PM EST
    as soon as the North Vietnamese realized that hellbent-for-leather types like Jim, Rush and Newt were intent on getting into the action any day (as soon as the cysts cleared up), they would've folded their cards and beat it back to Hanoi in fear.

    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Steve M on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:26:59 AM EST
    the man is dead, and you need to lie about him like that, claiming he said the war was lost.  Real classy.

    Huh? Here, listen for yourself. (2.00 / 0) (#48)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 12:07:49 PM EST
    The best (1.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:21:57 AM EST
    I can do for Cronkite is to quote Shakespeare.

    The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones

    Peral Harbor also caught us unaware (1.00 / 1) (#47)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 12:01:45 PM EST
    so your point is what???

    heh (2.00 / 0) (#52)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 02:26:27 PM EST
    And I invite you to read what an actual military guy named Bui Tin said:

    Q: What about Gen. Westmoreland's strategy and tactics caused you concern?
    A: Our senior commander in the South, Gen. Nguyen Chi Thanh, knew that we were losing base areas, control of the rural population and that his main forces were being pushed out to the borders of South Vietnam. He also worried that Westmoreland might receive permission to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail. ....We would attack poorly defended parts of South Vietnam cities during a holiday..

    Q: What about the results?
    A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election.



    Who won??? (none / 0) (#55)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 10:02:59 AM EST
    None of those Americans and Vietnamese who were killed because the Left convinced Giap that he could get a political settlement from the worthless feckless politicians.

    None of those won.


    Under this scenario, U.S. is probably (5.00 / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 11:31:36 AM EST
    still in Vietnam.

    Wars are won by killing (2.00 / 0) (#60)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 09:06:42 PM EST
    The faster you do it the shorter the war.

    Two out of three (2.00 / 0) (#61)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 09:07:49 PM EST
    And if the Left had shut up and supported the troops.

    BTD, might you comment on (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:49:42 PM EST
    Greenwald's discussion with Chuck Todd?  Twould be interesting.

    Wow (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:00:52 PM EST
    Just two days ago I had the astonishing experience of realizing that Walter Cronkite was still alive, when I seriously thought he had been dead for many years.  And now...

    In any event, R.I.P. to a great American.

    "And that's the way it is." (none / 0) (#11)
    by Saul on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:14:22 PM EST
    So long my friend.  A man like you was very rare.

    This may a better NYT link. (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:19:52 PM EST
    Very detailed article.  Especially interesting to me is LBJ's comment after Cronkite's visit to Vietnam and subsequent broadcast stating the war was a stalemate:  NYT

    Today's media stars are stuck in adolescence (none / 0) (#22)
    by BernieO on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 07:40:08 AM EST
    Our media stars are like a bunch of high school kids who are jockeying to be the deemed the coolest.

    There are still come brave, serious journalists who are risking their lives reporting from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The problem is that they are unknown to most of the public and will not rise to the top of TV news they way they used to.

    I started teaching (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jjc2008 on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 07:53:24 AM EST
    in 1967.  I used to tell my students, with confidence, that one of the greatest safeguards of democracy was our independent press.  I believed it because of men like Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley.  I had remembered how they took on McCarthy though I was young.   And while I had attended catholic school and was exposed to the fear mongering, a part of me got that the ones with integrity were the ones taking down McCarthy and his ilk.

    Years later I had to stop telling students that our press corps protected us against the excesses of power, money and government.  I remember when I read how Brian Williams announced his admiration for Rush Limbaugh.  I was stunned and disgusted.  Can you imagine Walter Conkite saying something so obnoxiously pathetic?  
    Rush is just a McCarthy with a larger audience and more money....a fear mongering coward who uses the radio to keep himself in power and rich.  

    I wondered often how Cronkite must have been so disgusted at how the press helped elect Reagan and W, how the millionaire pundit class partied with the people they were covering.......it's sad to think of how discouraged he must have been.

    Thanks Walter for giving a generation a reason to believe that we, the people, had power in our voices, our marches, our democracy.  
    That is the way it was.....

    Re McCarthy, that was Murrow (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Cream City on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:32:39 AM EST
    who was on the air then and went after him first among the few on the air at all then, so he gets the credit from many historians (but not all; it's a very interesting debate, but for another day).

    Hard to imagine it now, but Huntley-Brinkley didn't start their show until 1956 -- six years after McCarthy began his reign of terror.  Murrow and others were on the air for years while McCarthy went unchecked (except by a few in the print media, so the media historians' debate is about the power of the new medium).  Murrow went after him on the air in 1954, followed by the Senate's censure of Tailgunner Joe.  

    Murrow actually was Cronkite's mentor, recruiting him for CBS -- and Cronkite got his first show in 1953, but Murrow was the king of the airwaves then.  And it's amazing to realize that Cronkite didn't become anchor until 1962 . . . to be there for us the next, terrible year, when teevee news went to half an hour a night just in time for him to become the voice of comfort and continuity through the upheavals and tremendous changes to explode upon our little black-and-white screens  in the JFK assassination, the civil rights confrontations, etc.


    Yes I realize it (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jjc2008 on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 08:42:23 AM EST
    was Murrow who actually took McCarthy down but I was too young to really remember that actuality but for me, in my mind, it was Cronkite who took what Murrow did and made it the norm.  I understand I am not being historically accurate but for me, at that age, Cronkite embodied the principles of Murrow.......

    those are just my memories of what I felt and why.


    Ah, you young 'un -- but yes (none / 0) (#43)
    by Cream City on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 10:47:09 AM EST
    you certainly, correctly capture that Cronkite continued -- and greatly grew, amid far more market pressures -- the Murrow legacy.  (Btw, a good book on the good old days is The Murrow Boys.)

    NYT article says Cronkite was friends with (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 18, 2009 at 09:51:30 AM EST
    many Presidents, including Reagan.